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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Jacksonville State University is a liberal arts college tucked in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, located midway between Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama off I-20. The school was founded in 1883 and has approximately 9,500 students.
The JSU Gamecocks compete in the FCS level of NCAA football and are a member of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). Other schools in the OVC include Murray State, Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay, UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky. The football program has a very successful history, including winning the Division II NCAA National Championship in 1992. They also own the best all-time winning percentage of any team in the OVC.
The Gamecocks call Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium their home. The home field advantage is obvious, as the football team has an amazing .716 winning percentage entering the 2014 season in home games since the stadium opened in 1946. The original capacity of the stadium was 5,000, but numerous renovations over the years have brought the capacity up to its present 24,000 seats. The most recent upgrades occurred in 2010 and included the addition of 33 luxury skyboxes, a new press box and artificial turf on the field.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Concession stands are plentiful throughout the stadium, so lines are not a factor except during halftime. Amongst the food offerings are hamburgers ($5), hot dogs ($4), fries ($2.50), and fountain sodas ($3) Since the campus is located away from the town, there are no restaurants of note within walking distance of the stadium.
JSU Stadium is a wonderful place to watch a football game, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing in the nearby mountains. Jacksonville State is big on tailgating, with elaborate setups competing for the best decorated. The Gamecock fans love their school band, The Southerners, as they perform before the game, at halftime and even after the game, often getting cheers that are as loud as what the football team hears for its games. Even though the stadium is seven stories tall, it gives a great view of plays as they develop. Expect a sea of red as JSU fans are not shy about being Rooster Rooters.
The stadium is located on campus, so it is surrounded by academic buildings and dorms. A unique element to JSU Stadium is that four stories of dorm rooms are built directly into the stadium exterior. A majority of the students either walk or bike to the stadium, leaving the fight for on campus parking to the alums and tailgate crowd. The very nicely landscaped campus offers numerous areas for picnics and tailgating.
If you're staying overnight, the one sizable hotel in Jacksonville is the University Hampton Inn located adjacent to the campus.
This may be FCS-level football, but you ARE in the state of Alabama. JSU fans are rightfully proud of their team's success through the years. Many JSU players come from high schools within a 100 mile radius of the school so it is not unusual to see many proud families sporting buttons reading "my son is #."
JSU fans are loud, but not in an obnoxious way. A majority of their Ohio Valley Conference opponents are only a state or two away, so expect a good turnout from the opposition as well, which only adds to the overall atmosphere on game day.
Jacksonville is located approximately 14 miles north of I-20 at exit 185 (Anniston/Oxford). A majority of the major hotels will have a location in the Anniston area. Once you've driven up Highway 21 from Anniston, parking becomes an issue. The lots closest to the stadium are reserved for major donors, season ticket holders and tailgaters who have purchased season-long permits in the tailgate lots. The best option is the free parking in the Houston Cole Library lot across Highway 21 from the campus and taking the frequent shuttles directly to the stadium.
Jacksonville is a college town and you are not going to be gouged by the locals. The hotels in Anniston are moderately priced ($69-$105) and game tickets range from $40 to a $10 general admission ticket. Figure in free parking and a game featuring a perennial top ten team in the FCS polls and you get a good value for your money.
JSU Stadium has one very unique feature, the Stadium Tower Dorm. Lucky students who draw these rooms don't have to leave home in order to attend the game as they are literally built into the exterior of the stadium. (Although asking the "neighbors" to hold it down is a lost cause until the game ends!).
The tailgating at Jacksonville State is also outstanding and warrants an additional point.
If you're in need of JSU gear, you're in luck since apparel is sold inside the stadium.
Football in the South is a religion. You don't always have to go to a "mega church" (a.k.a. the SEC) to see quality football in a lovely setting. Consider a trip to see the Jacksonville State Gamecocks if you're in the area on a fine fall Saturday afternoon.
Member Review by Gemofthehills on Sep 24, 2014
Stadium club food is excellent.
Would like a little more crowd noise.
Can't afford everything since it isn't a cash cow like UAT.
501 Pelham Road N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
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1041 JD&L Drive
Jacksonville, AL 36256